Distracted driving is nothing new, and while the distractions change, concern remains. A 1930s proposed law in Massachusetts and St. Louis, Mo., along with many other municipalities, aimed to ban car radios as a distraction that caused accidents and claimed music could lull drivers to sleep. A 1934 New York poll showed 56 percent of drivers agreed, but lobbyists, among others, saw to it these efforts never proceeded very far.

While I don’t completely disagree with the assertions, I don’t think an outright ban was the right move and neither did the majority of people, as car radios were destined to become the infotainment systems they are today and, ironically, more distracting than ever.

Back then, car radios were far from common. Chevrolet introduced the first one as a $200 option in 1922, when a new Chevy sold for $525. This unit was more of a gimmick, but the nascent car radio was gaining interest as radio stations of the 1920s proliferated.

By 1927, the Philadelphia Battery Co. (or Philco) had purchased Transitone and began making the first mass-produced vacuum-tube radio chassis specifically for use in cars.

Paul Galvin and his brother Joseph saw the potential in car radios and changed the game in the 1930s, when they met an engineer by the name of William Lear, the prolific designer with an eighth-grade education who went on to invent a universal amplifier that he sold to RCA. This gave him the funding for numerous aircraft radio and navigation aids, the aircraft autopilot and, ultimately the Learjet.

Bill Lear made the car radio practical by coming up with shielding that allowed reasonable reception without constant tuning and launched the Galvin brothers’ company, which they called Motorola, still a major player in police and emergency services radios.

In 1936, Motorola — a portmanteau of Motor and Victrola — introduced push- button tuning to help address distractions and add convenience. By the end of the 1930s, 20 percent of cars had AM (Amplitude Modulation) radios installed.

Following World War II, the car radio became standard equipment, and by 1946, 9 million cars had radios. German high end radio manufacturer, Blaupunkt, released the first AM/FM car radio in 1953 and the same year, their competitor, Becker, introduced the first AM/FM radio with automatic station search.

In 1956, Chrysler introduced the Highway Hi-Fi, which was for all practical purposes an under-dash installed record player for those who preferred their own music. This unit played 7-inch records and later, half-standard LPs.

The obvious limitations of a car-installed record player gave rise to the four-track “endless loop” cartridge tape (or “cart”) used in radio station broadcasts into the 1990s when digital took over.

In 1964, Bill Lear — yes, him again — realized that most classical pieces were recorded on double albums, so he created the eight-track, which doubled the utility of the four-track and enabled the same endless-loop cartridge size to hold twice as much music.

Ford and Motorola introduced the eight-track player a year later. I still remember the Radio Shack Realistic eight-track player mounted under the dash of my brother’s Maverick and that loud mechanical clunk as it shifted tracks.

The invention of the transistor was the next big leap in radio evolution and in 1963, Becker came out with the first solid-state car radio that used no vacuum tubes. By this time, 50 million or 60 percent of cars were equipped with radios, and over one third of all Americans were listening to the radio in their car rather than in their home. In 1969, Becker again, introduced the first true car stereo.

The 1970s saw the cassette tape making inroads, and by 1980 it was the most popular car tape format. Radio was still the most popular listening medium, and improved technology in the mid-1970s favored FM (Frequency Modulation) radio, while AM stations slowly shifted focus to oldies music and talk-show formats.

Sony and Philips invented the compact disc in 1979, and music was first released on the CD in Japan in 1982, the same year Delco and Bose collaborated on the first manufacturer-installed high-end audio system.

The CD format and its apparatus were still very expensive and reserved for classical recordings, but by 1984, pop music was being released on compact disc, and Sony introduced the Discman while Becker installed the first car CD player as an option for Mercedes-Benz.

By 1987, the CD was as popular as the cassette tape.

CD players became the standard in car audio in the early 1990s, and through the early 2000s many manufacturers offered both cassette and CDs in the same installed unit along with AM/FM frequencies.

Lexus has the honor of having produced the last car with a cassette player factory installed in a 2010 SC430. At the end of the 1990s, MP3 or compressed digital audio formatting came along and in short order was added to production stereo head units via an auxiliary plug and cord allowing nearly unlimited recordings to be stored on a miniature device (remember the iPod?).

Bluetooth was developed in 1994 as a way to operate cellphones hands-free but didn’t become mainstream in cars until much later. Along with HDD (or Hard Disc Drives) for audio storage, satellite radio and navigation systems, car audio was again evolving.

Several manufacturers discontinued in-dash CD players and CD changers in 2012 as internet connectivity and streaming took over, and today, the old car radio is a powerful infotainment computer capable of a myriad of functions far beyond the AM static of days gone by.

Eric and Michelle Meltzer own and operate Fryeburg Motors, a licensed, full-service automotive sales and service facility at 299 Main St. in Fryeburg, Maine. More than a business, cars are a passion, and they appreciate anything that drives, rides, floats or flies.

While I don’t completely disagree with the assertions, I don’t think an outright ban was the right move and neither did the majority of people, as car radios were destined to become the infotainment systems they are today and, ironically, more distracting than ever.

Back then, car radios were far from common. Chevrolet introduced the first one as a $200 option in 1922, when a new Chevy sold for $525. This unit was more of a gimmick, but the nascent car radio was gaining interest as radio stations of the 1920s proliferated.

By 1927, the Philadelphia Battery Co. (or Philco) had purchased Transitone and began making the first mass-produced vacuum-tube radio chassis specifically for use in cars.

Paul Galvin and his brother Joseph saw the potential in car radios and changed the game in the 1930s, when they met an engineer by the name of William Lear, the prolific designer with an eighth-grade education who went on to invent a universal amplifier that he sold to RCA. This gave him the funding for numerous aircraft radio and navigation aids, the aircraft autopilot and, ultimately the Learjet.

Bill Lear made the car radio practical by coming up with shielding that allowed reasonable reception without constant tuning and launched the Galvin brothers' company, which they called Motorola, still a major player in police and emergency services radios.

In 1936, Motorola — a portmanteau of Motor and Victrola — introduced push- button tuning to help address distractions and add convenience. By the end of the 1930s, 20 percent of cars had AM (Amplitude Modulation) radios installed.

Following World War II, the car radio became standard equipment, and by 1946, 9 million cars had radios. German high end radio manufacturer, Blaupunkt, released the first AM/FM car radio in 1953 and the same year, their competitor, Becker, introduced the first AM/FM radio with automatic station search.

In 1956, Chrysler introduced the Highway Hi-Fi, which was for all practical purposes an under-dash installed record player for those who preferred their own music. This unit played 7-inch records and later, half-standard LPs.

The obvious limitations of a car-installed record player gave rise to the four-track “endless loop” cartridge tape (or “cart”) used in radio station broadcasts into the 1990s when digital took over.

In 1964, Bill Lear — yes, him again — realized that most classical pieces were recorded on double albums, so he created the eight-track, which doubled the utility of the four-track and enabled the same endless-loop cartridge size to hold twice as much music.

Ford and Motorola introduced the eight-track player a year later. I still remember the Radio Shack Realistic eight-track player mounted under the dash of my brother’s Maverick and that loud mechanical clunk as it shifted tracks.

The invention of the transistor was the next big leap in radio evolution and in 1963, Becker came out with the first solid-state car radio that used no vacuum tubes. By this time, 50 million or 60 percent of cars were equipped with radios, and over one third of all Americans were listening to the radio in their car rather than in their home. In 1969, Becker again, introduced the first true car stereo.

The 1970s saw the cassette tape making inroads, and by 1980 it was the most popular car tape format. Radio was still the most popular listening medium, and improved technology in the mid-1970s favored FM (Frequency Modulation) radio, while AM stations slowly shifted focus to oldies music and talk-show formats.

Sony and Philips invented the compact disc in 1979, and music was first released on the CD in Japan in 1982, the same year Delco and Bose collaborated on the first manufacturer-installed high-end audio system.

The CD format and its apparatus was still very expensive and reserved for classical recordings, but by 1984, pop music was being released on compact disc, and Sony introduced the Discman while Becker installed the first car CD player as an option for Mercedes-Benz.

By 1987, the CD was as popular as the cassette tape.

CD players became the standard in car audio in the early 1990s, and through the early 2000s many manufacturers offered both cassette and CDs in the same installed unit along with AM/FM frequencies.

Lexus has the honor of having produced the last car with a cassette player factory installed in a 2010 SC430. At the end of the 1990s, MP3 or compressed digital audio formatting came along and in short order was added to production stereo head units via an auxiliary plug and cord allowing nearly unlimited recordings to be stored on a miniature device (remember the iPod?).

Bluetooth was developed in 1994 as a way to operate cellphones hands-free but didn’t become mainstream in cars until much later. Along with HDD (or Hard Disc Drives) for audio storage, satellite radio and navigation systems, car audio was again evolving.

Several manufacturers discontinued in-dash CD players and CD changers in 2012 as internet connectivity and streaming took over, and today, the old car radio is a powerful infotainment computer capable of a myriad of functions far beyond the AM static of days gone by.

Eric and Michelle Meltzer own and operate Fryeburg Motors, a licensed, full-service automotive sales and service facility at 299 Main St. in Fryeburg, Maine. More than a business, cars are a passion, and they appreciate anything that drives, rides, floats or flies.

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